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Pasco teen up for city honor faces charges in BB shootings of homeless men

NEW PORT RICHEY — On Tuesday's Pasco County Commission agenda, between one resolution honoring an Eagle Scout and one honoring local middle school students, another resolution recognizes two teenage brothers who rescued a married couple stranded in the Gulf of Mexico.

Patrick and Garrett Pinder, the resolution says, showed "outstanding initiative and bravery" while assisting the couple after a boating accident.

But one of the brothers, 18-year-old Patrick, is also facing criminal charges for his alleged involvement in a cruel act: New Port Richey Police say he was among a group of teens who randomly shot homeless men with BBs and plastic pellets, even hitting one of them in the face.

Should that matter when it comes to a public recognition of his good deed?

His lawyer, Chris Frey, said it's complicated.

"Patrick and his brother Garrett rescued the lives of two fellow citizens," Frey said. "However, he (Patrick) is also accused of other undesirable behavior for which he is being held accountable.

"However, it is commendable and appropriate for a community to praise a young man's heroic efforts, just as it is to hold him accountable for less desirable conduct. In this situation, both happen to be on-going simultaneously."

Patrick has pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor charges — battery and culpable negligence — in connection with the April 15 BB gun shooting of a homeless man who'd been asleep on a bench on Adams Street.

Police also arrested Patrick on May 6 on a felony aggravated battery charge after a second homeless man told police he, too, had been shot in the leg by a BB gun back in April. That charge has not yet been filed in court, said Frey.

Less than a week after he was arrested on the felony charge, Patrick and his brother were scuba diving and spear fishing with their dad off Hernando Beach when they noticed a man waving an inflatable flotation device in the distance. The brothers untied the boat from the buoy and picked up Timothy and Paula Allen, who had been bobbing 20 miles off the shore for 24 hours.

When the brothers on May 10 plucked the couple out of the water, the teens later said, the first words out of Paula Allen's mouth were: "You guys just saved our lives."

The Pinder brothers, along with the Allens, appeared on the Today show not long after the rescue.

Timothy Allen is an officer with the Ocoee Police Department, just outside Orlando. His chief, Charles Brown, contacted Pasco County about honoring the two boys with the resolution.

Brown said the boys' father told him that Patrick had some recent criminal charges, but the chief said he didn't press for details and learned only on Friday from a reporter about the charges. ("Not good," he said.)

But he said the recognition is for what he did on May 10.

"He did the right thing on that day," said Brown. "To us, that incident with our officer, it really mattered. It really could have been tragic. They were at the end of their rope."

Pasco Commission Chairman Jack Mariano, who is sponsoring the resolution, had not seen or heard the media reports about the criminal charges against Patrick.

"Really?" he said Friday. "I didn't know that."

Nonetheless, he said the resolution would go forward.

"Well, there's good in all of us, isn't there?" he said. "We're going to stick with the good they did here."

Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

Pasco teen up for city honor faces charges in BB shootings of homeless men 06/19/09 [Last modified: Friday, June 19, 2009 9:09pm]
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